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Efforts made to please prize winner

I am currently a customer of Aaron's Rental Purchase in Pinellas Park. The store had a promotion that stated you could earn a choice of fabulous prizes after seven payments were made on-time. I earned a total of 14 points for 14 on-time payments, thus earning two choices of prizes. I have never received either.

Aaron's promise is "total satisfaction by always providing the highest level of service." Well, I feel that I have not been satisfied. Neither has Aaron's kept its promise. Each time I ask about my prizes the representative tells me that he will call the sponsors, but no one ever calls back. Lois Flournoy

Response: Mark Benedict, national advertising manager of Aaron's Rental Purchase in Atlanta, said that he was appalled at the lack of customer service and apologizes for your inconvenience. This is not how Aaron's runs its business, he said.

Benedict said the Winner's Circle program was set up nationally by the company as an incentive for customers making on-time payments. You rented multiple products from Aaron's and over a period of time received 14 points.

Somewhere along the line, Benedict said the system broke down, and your prizes were not mailed. Aaron's contracted an outside company to fill redemptions, and your particular information somehow was not received.

After becoming aware of your situation, Benedict said he immediately contacted you. Since you had just started a new job, you were not able to avail yourself of your initial prize selections, a vacation getaway package and a certificate for discounts on major cruise lines. Benedict said he offered you a selection of prizes to choose from, and, since you could not make up your mind, he said he sent you three prizes and two coupons for free 100-fluid-ounce bottles of a laundry detergent.

You were unhappy with what you said was the inferior quality of the prizes, which you described as a headset worth about $8, a used car vacuum worth $8 to $10 and a $5 calculator that looked used. Benedict said that the prizes you were sent were comparable or exceeded the cost of your original prizes and that they were not used.

Since he has been unsuccessful in his efforts to contact you, Benedict said he will mail you the two prizes you originally chose, and he hopes it is to your satisfaction. He said he is sorry that your Aaron's experience was not a pleasant one.

Labels for Education

program active

There is a church in Roanoke, Va., that collects Campbell's Soup labels to help obtain personal computers for its school. I believe a high school in New Port Richey does something similar.

Would you know how this program works? With luck I'll be moving soon, and I'd like to make sure schools in my new neighborhood have a similar program. Charles Farrell

Response: Campbell's Labels for Education program is alive and well.

Schools that participate in the program collect and redeem labels for free educational and athletic equipment, ranging from computers and audio visual equipment to books and sporting goods. The program officially begins Oct. 1 and ends March 1. Schools and libraries must submit their orders and labels by March 15. However, Campbell's encourages participants to collect year-round.

Full details on registration, eligible products, redemption and other information are available on Campbell's Web site: or call (800) 424-5331.

When Social Security benefits end

If a Social Security check is received the first of the month and the person dies the 26th of that month, does the surviving spouse have to pay the money back to Social Security that had been received on the first of that month? Pat Lunn

Response: According to the Social Security Administration office in St. Petersburg, Social Security checks are paid one month in arrears. Thus, the check that is received the first of the month is for the month just ended.

To be entitled to a check, the individual must live out the whole month. Thus, the check to which you refer was for the preceding month during which the person was alive. It may be kept.

A check for the month during which the person died may not be kept. In your scenario, the person died toward the end of the month, and chances are a check for that month will still be sent the beginning of the next month. If that turns out to be the case, it must be returned.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, (800) 333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.